It's once again time to look at the things we need to check off the list before moving on to the next week of college football action, a weekend that includes this year's Fourth Annual Sacrificial Goat Roast on Saturday at the Blind Pig in Athens. In no particular order, we need to:
1) Just stop expecting greatness from the UGA secondary this season. Let me get this out of the way. I don't blame Coach Lakatos or Coach Grantham for our secondary's play this season. I also don't think that the guys we have back there are not giving good effort. But at various times we have now played something like 7 freshmen or sophomores on the back end. It's this team's obvious flaw. Those guys have looked lost at times, because they were. And defensive players who are lost lack confidence. Lack of confidence tends to make players indecisive, tentative. They don't play fast.
The young guys we're playing this year will improve. But they're undergoing a baptism by fire and there's just not a whole lot that can be done about that right now. We have who we have, and the coaches just have to keep coaching them. Fortunately the offenses we've seen are a good bit more fearsome than the ones we'll face from here on out.
2) Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the Bulldog offensive line. This weekend made clear that we have an offensive line that is capable of lining up and getting a push against most any defensive front. But just as they did against Clemson, this group really struggled when Missouri's speed rushers teed off and when the Tiger front used stunts to break down the pass protection (which they deserve credit for doing pretty effectively). This is another reason why we need Todd Gurley back as soon as he is healthy. Which brings up #3.
3) Eagerly await the return of Todd Gurley. Mark Richt characterized Gurley last night as "really close" to being ready to play. I take that as a good sign that he'll be available this weekend in Nashville unless a setback occurs. Gurley's return wouldn't cure everything that ails this Georgia team, but it's the best news on the horizon at this point.
4) Glory in the return of the Mack. You knew that he'd be back. But did you know that Mack Brown would lead an apparently resilient Texas team to a 36-20 win over a top 10 Oklahoma squad? Of course you didn't. No one did, except for Mack Brown, who continues to appear to be the only person unaware that he's headed for the unemployment line. Instead Mack continues to be "undefeated in the Big XII" (TM). Of course, there remain a few games left on the Longhorn schedule which look dicey, and Greg Robinson is still in charge of the Texas defense. So I suppose there may be hope for the anti-Mack contingent yet.
5) Congratulate our SEC brethren on a league first. Eight league teams (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and Auburn) are currently ranked in the AP top 25. That's a record for any conference. Good job, gang.
6) Try to figure out what Brady Hoke was doing during the Wolverines overtime loss to Penn State. Really, I don't fully understand. If someone would explain it to me I would be grateful.
7) Feel awful for Missouri's James Franklin. The guy has really started putting it together this year, so seeing him go down for the remainder of the regular season was sad, no matter who you pull for. Franklin's injury also doesn't do a lot to clear up a murky SEC East picture. While Missouri is the lone East squad undefeated in conference play, it's hard to imagine them getting through the next two weeks against Florida and South Carolina unscathed. Not to mention their season ender against TAMU.
On the bright side, each of those contests takes place in Columbia, and each of those teams has serious issues as well. Throw in the WLOCP and the Gamecocks' November 16 matchup with the Gators, and it's clear the division race won't be settled for quite a while.
So what am I missing? Feel free to include your suggestions in the comments, and . . .